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The Real Secularism Debate

Describing Justice Katju's remarks as scary and ad hominem, Pratap Bhanu Mehta goes on to make a larger point:

Secularism, like communalism, is no longer a first principles debate; it is a pretext for forcing issues where none exist. The only two interpretations of secularism that are current in India are deeply warped: secularism as erasure of identity, or secularism as communal parity. Neither interpretation has room for the core meaning: secularism is about the freedom of individuals to make of themselves what they will; it is about making “identity” irrelevant to politics, not about its enforced erasure. 

Citing a recent report according to which two  Muslim-run schools in Bahraich had “converted” to madrasas  in order to access a grant of Rs 6000 available to madrasas, "and the boys and girls had to suddenly start wearing skull caps and headscarves — with their ties," he points out how this case illustrates "the ways in which identities get structured by the incentives provided by the state":

But in a sense it is also illustrative of the way the Congress thinks: it wants to give benefits to minorities, not as a matter of their individual rights, not as part of an overall right to education, but as “minorities”.

...The BJP tags to target, Congress tags to provide noblesse oblige. But it is the tagging that’s insidious.

More here: Identity markers

Describing Justice Katju's remarks as scary and ad hominem, Pratap Bhanu Mehta goes on to make a larger point:

Secularism, like communalism, is no longer a first principles debate; it is a pretext for forcing issues where none exist. The only two interpretations of secularism that are current in India are deeply warped: secularism as erasure of identity, or secularism as communal parity. Neither interpretation has room for the core meaning: secularism is about the freedom of individuals to make of themselves what they will; it is about making “identity” irrelevant to politics, not about its enforced erasure. 

Citing a recent report according to which two  Muslim-run schools in Bahraich had “converted” to madrasas  in order to access a grant of Rs 6000 available to madrasas, "and the boys and girls had to suddenly start wearing skull caps and headscarves — with their ties," he points out how this case illustrates "the ways in which identities get structured by the incentives provided by the state":

But in a sense it is also illustrative of the way the Congress thinks: it wants to give benefits to minorities, not as a matter of their individual rights, not as part of an overall right to education, but as “minorities”.

...The BJP tags to target, Congress tags to provide noblesse oblige. But it is the tagging that’s insidious.

More here: Identity markers

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